Simultaneous reductions in emissions of black carbon and co-emitted species will weaken the aerosol net cooling effect
- 1Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
- 2Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China
- 3Laboratory for Climate Studies, National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China
- 4Key Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
Abstract. Black carbon (BC), a distinct type of carbonaceous material formed from the incomplete combustion of fossil and biomass based fuels under certain conditions, can interact with solar radiation and clouds through its strong light-absorption ability, thereby warming the Earth's climate system. Some studies have even suggested that global warming could be slowed down in the short term by eliminating BC emission due to its short lifetime. In this study, we estimate the influence of removing some sources of BC and other co-emitted species on the aerosol radiative effect by using an aerosol–climate atmosphere-only model BCC_AGCM2.0.1_CUACE/Aero with prescribed sea surface temperature and sea ice cover, in combination with the aerosol emissions from the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) scenarios. We find that the global annual mean aerosol net cooling effect at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) will be enhanced by 0.12 W m−2 compared with recent past year 2000 levels if the emissions of only BC are reduced to the level projected for 2100 based on the RCP2.6 scenario. This will be beneficial~for the mitigation of global warming. However, both aerosol negative direct and indirect radiative effects are weakened when BC and its co-emitted species (sulfur dioxide and organic carbon) are simultaneously reduced. Relative to year 2000 levels, the global annual mean aerosol net cooling effect at the TOA will be weakened by 1.7–2.0 W m−2 if the emissions of all these aerosols are decreased to the levels projected for 2100 in different ways based on the RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 scenarios. Because there are no effective ways to remove the BC exclusively without influencing the other co-emitted components, our results therefore indicate that a reduction in BC emission can lead to an unexpected warming on the Earth's climate system in the future.